If you're eagerly waiting for me to tell you what I thought the first time I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was about a month ago, then I am sorry for keeping you waiting - it has been rather busy in these parts lately. Mostly because the end of Past Tense Vol 1 is now complete! Episode 6 is now available, and you can find it here. It's pretty good, though I say so myself.
The reason it's taken so long is a surprise Episode 7, which is currently the longest piece of non-fiction I've ever written by some short margin. It looks great. I am so excited for you to see it. (Which you will be able to do, on Friday 17th August.)
I shan't lie, though: it's also been one of the hardest things to write, not because the subject matter is difficult - although, huh, quite a lot going on in 1641 England, it turns out - but because the answer to "How many creative crises can one person have in one year?" is apparently "At least two, and by the way it's only the beginning of August." The last six months have not been a writing montage, friends - not even the kind that admits a small quantity of interim doubt. The last six months have been something I want to describe in a dozen different ways, none of which manage to explain what it's like to feel like you are taking the cogent, subtle, clever arguments of several dozen other writers, turning it all into a finger painting, and then showing your finger painting to people who've spent decades specialising in art. No matter that the specialists are all lovely (!!) and all seem delighted to see you (!!?!), but my, that had better be the best damn finger painting you can possibly conceive of. Think it's good enough yet? I'm not sure you understand what the word "good" means; maybe you've been looking at it too long.
And so I would like at this point to raise my mug of coffee in salute to the listeners of Past Tense, who are far more wonderful than I have given them credit for lately. And also to anyone else out there who does independent research, with very little direction, in waters that are murky and deep. Keep swimming. I know it matters if it's slow going, but also... it doesn't matter if it's slow going. Get in touch. I'd like to know there are two of us, as well.
from The Way It Is, by William Stafford
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.